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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #143
IDW Publishing

Comic Books

‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ #143 teases Jasper Barlow’s ultimate plans

The whole gang is back together, but will it be enough to thwart the dastardly doctor?

If the previous issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was all about family conflict, this issue is about setting all that aside and coming together to solve problems. Relationships are mended and the importance of teamwork takes center stage as the Turtles and their allies fight to save Mushroom and end the killing spree plaguing Mutants.

SPOILERS AHEAD for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #143!

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Michelangelo is able to leverage tips from his radio audience to discover a likely entrance for Leatherhead’s lair. Jennika is out of commission, nursing her injured leg and stays behind in the lair with Bob and Carmen while the rest of the group seeks out Leatherhead. Leo’s growth as a leader becomes evident as he recognizes that Bob and Carmen aren’t prepared for such a dangerous mission. He displays a realistic outlook on their capabilities, prioritizing their safety over the urge to prove readiness for a battle they’re not equipped for. Leo takes the time to mend fences with his brother, apologizing to Mikey for their earlier altercation with Donatello and Raphael, reaffirming the bond among siblings.

Perhaps one of the biggest falling outs among the Turtles and their allies is between Raphael and Alopex. Previously romantically involved, Alopex could not accept that the Turtles worked with Shredder during the Armageddon Game. Raphael finally opens up to Alopex, acknowledging that it was a mistake and he should have tried to find another way instead of going along with it. Alopex finds solace in Raphael’s admission, recognizing that he now understands the complexity of the situation. She’s been seriously hurt, and would have died if Raphael didn’t stumble upon her in the streets. Perhaps this brush with death is what finally gets typically stubborn Raph to admit he was wrong.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #143
Raphael apologizes to Alopex
Credit: IDW

Meanwhile, the remaining members of the group – Donatello, Mikey, Leonardo, Angel, Zink, Zanna, Koya, Bludgeon, and Venus – search the sewers for Leatherhead. Of course, nothing is straightforward in the sewers, and they split into three groups to cover the twisting paths. Barlow’s night terrors are able to sneak up on all of our heroes, and use the dragon scale powers to show everyone in the group their worst nightmares. From Zink and Zanna being abandoned by Old Hob, to Angel fearing she’s powerless without her suit, and even Bludgeon confronted by his primal animal nature, everyone experiences their worst fears and anxieties and is rendered unconscious. The only one able to fight off the night terrors is Venus. Using her magic abilities she wakes Mikey up and they trace the night terrors back to Barlow’s lair. Leatherhead, who’s previously shown some moments of lucidity, is able to break free of Barlow’s control for a moment and revive Leo. But the moment doesn’t last long, and Venus, Mikey and Leo are quickly on the offensive against Leatherhead.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #143
Never split the party
Credit: IDW

As Barlow escapes the lair, Venus pursues, leaving Mikey and Leo to contend with Leatherhead, Groundchuck, and Dirtbag. In the final pages, Venus confronts Barlow just as he transforms, harnessing the power of the dragon scales. His new, nightmarish form looms ominously, shrouded in terror. The burning question remains: can Venus summon the strength and magic to defeat this formidable adversary? Readers will be left in suspense until next month when the “Damages Done” arc concludes.

Campbell once again masterfully weaves a tightly-knit narrative that underscores the importance of family and the value of trust among allies. Leo and Mikey set aside their differences, mirroring the growth seen in Raph and Alopex’s relationship. Mikey touches upon a similar theme during his conversation with Venus in the sewers, reflecting on the missed opportunity with the Punk Frogs and his desire for a different outcome. Throughout that story arc, Mikey was trying to keep things civil between the groups, and perhaps they could have ended up friends.

Campbell skillfully delves into the core of each character, exposing their innermost motivations during the psychic onslaught by the night terrors. She explores the psyche of the characters, unveiling their deepest fears and insecurities. Leonardo grapples with the fear of making mistakes as a leader, Donatello regrets revealing the impending Armageddon to the group, and Michelangelo wrestles with the concern of neglecting his family while embracing a larger community. This introspective journey sheds light on the driving forces behind the Turtles’ decisions.

While each Turtle exhibits progress in addressing their respective issues (Don confiding in Leo about Armageddon, Mikey seeking help from his audience for the case, and Leo gaining confidence in his leadership abilities by delegating tasks), there remains substantial work ahead. If they had truly defeated their demons, then they wouldn’t have succumbed so easily to the magic of the dragon scales.

Gavin Smith’s art consistently dazzles throughout the story. His attention to detail within the Turtle Lair, including Pepperoni, Lita, and Klunk, brings a warm, lived-in feeling to the environment, making it more than just a backdrop for their conversations. Alopex’s haggard facial expressions convey the severity of her injuries, evoking genuine sympathy from readers.

However, where Smith truly showcases his artistic chops is in his portrayal of the night terror illusions. The realistic style that has been a hallmark of his work seamlessly transforms into a grotesque and surreal dreamscape, featuring exaggerated creatures and monstrous body transformations that create a nightmarish atmosphere. The once-rigid panel borders are transformed into red glowing electricity, fueled by the power of the dragon scales, adding to the eerie ambiance. One standout moment for colorist Ronda Pattison is when Venus’ blue-green magic begins to overpower the red dragon scale magic. The transition from red to vibrant yellows and oranges is executed seamlessly, capturing the shifting balance of power in a visually stunning manner.

In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #143, Sophie Campbell and Gavin Smith collaborate to deliver a narrative that not only underscores the significance of family bonds and trust among allies but also showcases remarkable artistry. As the Turtles face their deepest fears and insecurities, the story delves into their motivations and highlights their growth, while also leaving them at a critical juncture. Readers are left eagerly anticipating the conclusion of the ‘Damages Done’ arc, promising further revelations and challenges for our heroes.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #143
‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ #143 teases Jasper Barlow’s ultimate plans
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #143
Sophie Campbell and Gavin Smith collaborate to deliver a narrative that not only underscores the significance of family bonds and trust among allies but also showcases remarkable artistry. As the turtles face their deepest fears and insecurities, the story delves into their motivations and highlights their growth, while also leaving them at a critical juncture. Readers are left eagerly anticipating the conclusion, promising further revelations and challenges for our heroes.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
The narrative is skillfully crafted, emphasizing the importance of family and trust among allies.
The transition from a realistic style to grotesque and surreal dreamscapes during the night terror illusions adds depth and intensity to the story.
The characters, especially the Turtles, show significant growth as they confront their fears and insecurities.
Barlow's motivations and plan are still a little opaque
8
Good
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